Monti is Rome’s first neighborhood and you will find it right next to the Colosseum.
Technically it stretches from the Quirinale to the Cealian hills, but when people talk about Monti they usually mean the part in-between via Nazionale and via Cavour. It was a swampy slum filled with bordellos and taverns called the Suburra that was separated from the Imperial Forums by a massive firewall. Today Monti is where to find some of our favorite Rome restaurants with diverse options that range from the most traditional of trattorias to a cafe that serves both natural wines and cold pressed juice. The neighborhood’s location is perfect for lunch after a morning of touring the ancient sites or for dinner before you head back to the hotel.
1. Taverna Fori Imperiali
This is a very popular place beloved by foreign food journalists, visiting celebrities and neighborhood locals. You are going to have to reserve a table well in advance. Taverna Fori Imperiali is an art filled family run trattoria with a few creative twists. A standout dish is the Roman classic cacio e pepe that has the indulgent addition of shaved black truffles.
2. Alle Carette
With a large room of inside seating and a small garden with tables in the back even if there is a line outside (reader, if it is a weekend evening there will be a line) it will move quickly. Alle Carrete serves Roman-style thin crust pizzas at both lunch and dinner from their wood fire oven at a swift pace. While you wait for your individual pie do as the Romans do and order a few plates of fried things while you wait for your pizza. We love the slices of deep-fried artichoke and stuffed zucchini flowers. You can combine two traditional Roman dishes with their carbonara pizza.
3. Pasta Chef
Are you jet lagged or have a cranky child that doesn’t want to sit through another restaurant meal? Pasta Chef to the rescue. It is open from 12:30 until 9:30 p.m. every day if you need a late lunch or an early dinner. This is fast food Italian style with long high tables and stools for seating and eco-friendly disposable plates and cutlery. Oh, they also serve wine. The amatriciana and carbonara are some the city’s best plates of pasta. There is a good caesar salad if you need some greens. You can eat in or take your dinner back to your apartment .
4. Zia Rosetta
It might be a tight squeeze in this tiny shop on the via Urbana but everyone is here for the selection of inventive gourmet sandwiches. Traditionally the rosetta romana roll has a crusty exterior and hollow center and is filled with mortadella or a swipe of Nutella for an afternoon snack. At Zia Rosetta they have shrunk the size softened the texture and expanded the options of fillings. We love the Virgo with egg, potato and bacon (perfect for a late breakfast) and the Claire with anchovies, stracciatella cheese, grilled zucchini. There are also fresh juices and wine on offer.
Insiders Tip: A larger size rosetta is available, but we recommend ordering a few smaller ones with different fillings. This makes a perfect quick snack if shopping at the nearby Mercato Monti has made you hungry.
After a few days of a steady diet of pasta, pizza, and wine you might be in need of some vegetables and cold pressed juice. Aromaticus is part garden shop part cafe. Pick a spot at a table amongst the plants and once you place your order find the shelf with cups, glasses, cutlery and napkins (all ecological and recyclable) and take what need. There is usually a vegetarian soup of the day and entree are a mix of vegan, vegetarian and an excellent beef tartare for the carnivore. To drink there are cold pressed juices and wine by the glass from the small selection of organic and bio producers.
Romans are wild about sushi. You will probably notice posters for all you can eat sushi buffets and stacks of clear covered trays of nigiri at the supermarket. Hasekura is none of these things. Long on tradition and rigorously sourced ingredients the restaurant has been on the via Serpenti since 1993. The set lunch menus are a terrific value with choices from sashimi and sushi to tempura all with miso soup, salad and dishes of soft pickled vegetables.
Romans are a traditional lot. Until very recently it was quite a challenge to find a restaurant serving anything other than pasta and pizza. Sicilian or Sardinian cuisine was the exotic choice. Things are different now but Monti has always been the neighborhood where you could find food from far away places like Korea, China and India. Sitar is an Indian restaurant that focuses on authentic North Indian cuisine. If you are worried about tradition, Sitar was one of the first Indian restaurants in Rome and the family that runs it has been here for more than 40 years.